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Tonnage Losses Up Substantially 1st Qtr

According to figures released by the Institute of London Underwriters (ILU), the underlying improvement in merchant ship casualty experience seen in 1993 did not hold up during the first quarter of the year. Statistics, taking into account ships of 500 gt and over, show that in the January to March 1994 time period a total of 24 ships were recorded as total losses or constructive total losses (CTLs). While the number of ships lost represents a 40 percent decrease from the same time period of a year before (40 vs. 24); the tonnage total lost in the first quarter of 1994 (384,874 gt) was much higher—59.5 percent— than the total of 218,794 gt lost in the first quarter of 1993.

The 348,874 gt lost in the first quarter of 1994 is about half of the total tonnage lost in the whole of 1993 (which was 129 ships totaling 739,483 gt). The figures also do not include three vessels in January which were all lost as a result of breaking their tow, and 14 other vessels which were confirmed as total losses occurring the previous year. The largest individual loss in the first quarter of1994 was the Maltese-flagSfoZidi, a 138,765-gt tanker built in 1976. The vessel was extensively damaged after an explosion and fire, and the vessel was sold for breaking up.

Two of the most expensive hull total losses (for underwriters), according to ILU, were the Italian- flag liquefied gas carrier Red Star and the Liberian-flag ore/oil carrier Marika, insured for $14 million and $12.5 million respectively.

A spectacular casualty, although not total loss, was the Finnish-flag passenger ferry Sally Albatross, which grounded and was holed west of Helsinki in March. A successful rescue operation accounted for 1,100 passengers and 158 crew.

Loss Of Life According to ILU casualty reports (which the organization admits are difficult to collate accurately), 179 people were either killed or reported missing as a result of losses (both total and partial) during the first quarter of 1994. By contrast, a total of 613 were reported for all of 1993; 386 for all of 1992. Additionally, the figures do not tell the whole story, as ILU statistics cover only vessels 500 gt and higher, excluding fishing vessels and other craft.

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